The Plague Doctor knew about face masks before for the Coronavirus!

27 Jan 2020

Coronavirus and Doctor Plague

By: Tracy Chandler (& Paul Parham)

Face masks take on an entirely different meaning as the Venice Carnival clashes with the spread of the Coronavirus

With the Venice carnival due to start in two weeks (8th February to 25th February 2020) there is a back drop of confusion over the search for face masks.

Whether you are Googling it, or asking Bing or Yahoo, the term “face mask” has taken on a whole different meaning.

If you are concerned about the Coronavirus then search for N95 respirator masks, if you are going to the Venice Carnival, or a Venetian Ball, then search for Venetian masks !

With the Coronavirus escalating, the press are reporting a run on face masks in the US, UK and China, with many outlets reporting shortages of these N95 respirator masks.

In a move that Donald Trump would be proud of, Taiwan have introduced a month long ban on the export of these masks after fears of supply shortages arose. With the virus accelerating this is a mega ugly health trade war that no one wanted to see.

We, at Just Posh Masks, are also seeing a run on its face masks, but this is because the Venice Carnival for 2020 is about to start. We are not, as yet, in a trade war with Italy, and we are hoping that, by the time the Carnival starts, the full face Venetian character mask, with full Venetian costume, will still be the order of the day.

Plague Doctors were medical physicians who treated victims of the Plague. During the 17th century doctors would wear a face mask with a long nose, which became known as the Medico della Peste or Plague Doctor Mask. These masks were filled with aromatic herbs and spices. It was thought that these sweet smelling herbs protected the doctor from the spread of the plague, which was widely considered to be airborne.

The N95 respirator masks are simpler, and more advanced than the iconic Plague Doctor mask. These textile masks are thought to filter out over 90% of particles in the air and are, currently, recommended for the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Those that know the history of this long nose Doctor mask will know that there are some similarities with the current day Coronavirus and the Plague. Then, as now, the medical world did not know how this virus was being spread. It was thought that wearing a mask would contain, and hopefully stop, this becoming a pandemic.

We now know that the Plague was not airborne and, at the time of writing, we still do not know if the Coronavirus, like the SARS virus in 2003, is airborne, or how it is even being spread.

Whilst mask technology today far exceeds that of the 17th century, and no one would argue that the N95 respirator masks are better at protecting you than the plague doctor masks were, we can all be forgiven for thinking that today there is a feeling of déjà vu.

By: Tracy Chandler (& Paul Parham)


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